June 11, 2024

The C-119G, known as the "Flying Boxcar," stands as a testament to mid-20th-century aviation ingenuity, playing a pivotal role in military and humanitarian missions worldwide. Its unique twin-boom design and robust cargo capabilities made it an indispensable asset for the U.S. Air Force, particularly during the Korean War and the Berlin Airlift. Read about 53-3191, a Flying Boxcar which has been immortalized as exclusive PlaneTags, then add one to your collection.



History of the Flying Boxcar

 

By USAF - Travis Air Force Base Public Affairs., Public Domain, Link

 

The origins of the C-119 trace back to the Fairchild C-82 Packet, which was its predecessor designed during World War II. The need for a more capable and versatile cargo aircraft led to the development of the C-119 by Fairchild Aircraft. The C-119 was designed to address the shortcomings of the C-82, featuring a larger cargo capacity, improved engines, and a strengthened airframe. Development began in the late 1940s, with Fairchild engineers focusing on creating an aircraft that could efficiently transport troops, equipment, and supplies to remote and austere locations.


Manufactured by Fairchild Aircraft, the first prototype of the C-119 made its maiden flight on November 17, 1947. The aircraft's design, characterized by its twin-boom structure and rear-loading ramp, made it ideal for a variety of missions, including cargo transport, paratrooper drops, and medical evacuation. Following successful testing and evaluation, the C-119 was introduced into operational service with the U.S. Air Force in December 1949. Its robust performance and adaptability quickly earned it a reputation as a reliable workhorse, leading to widespread use in both military and civilian operations around the globe.


The C-119 Flying Boxcars were produced at the Fairchild Aircraft plant in Hagerstown, Maryland, from 1949 to 1955. In 1951, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation also began manufacturing C-119s at their Willow Run plant in Michigan. In total, Fairchild built 1,112 C-119s, while Kaiser-Frazer produced an additional 71.



C-119 Design


By U.S. Military - AN 01-115CCA-2, page 2, Public Domain, Link

 

The design of the C-119 is distinctive and innovative, featuring a unique twin-boom structure that extends from the fuselage to the tail. This design allows for a spacious cargo hold, which can be easily accessed through a large rear-loading ramp. The fuselage is broad and rectangular, resembling a boxcar, hence its nickname "Flying Boxcar." This configuration was particularly advantageous for transporting oversized cargo, vehicles, and even troops. The aircraft was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines, which provided the necessary power for heavy lifting and long-range missions. The high-wing configuration offered stability and excellent lift characteristics, essential for the varied and often challenging missions the C-119 was tasked with.



C-119 Variants and Modifications

 

The C-119 underwent several modifications and upgrades throughout its service life, resulting in multiple variants, each tailored to specific operational requirements. These variants and their respective enhancements significantly improved the aircraft’s performance, versatility, and reliability in various mission profiles. Here is a summary of the key C-119 variants and their major modifications:


  • C-119A: The initial production model, featuring the basic design and Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines.
  • C-119B: Incorporated structural reinforcements and minor aerodynamic improvements to enhance performance.
  • C-119C: Introduced a strengthened fuselage and updated avionics for better navigation and communication capabilities.
  • C-119F: Upgraded with more powerful Wright R-3350 radial engines, providing increased payload capacity and improved fuel efficiency.
  • C-119G: Featured reinforced landing gear, structural enhancements, and advanced avionics, making it more capable in adverse weather and night operations.
  • C-119K: Equipped with auxiliary jet engines for additional thrust, enhancing takeoff performance and overall operational flexibility.
  • AC-119G/K: Gunship variants designed for ground attack missions, fitted with side-firing weapons, surveillance equipment, and enhanced defensive systems.

These variants and upgrades ensured that the C-119 remained a vital asset in various military and humanitarian roles, continuously adapting to meet the evolving demands of its operators.




C-119G Variant


C-119G By United States Air Force - United States Air Force, Public Domain, Link

 

The C-119G variant, an evolution of the original design, introduced several key improvements that enhanced the aircraft's performance and versatility. One of the most significant upgrades was the installation of more powerful Wright R-3350 radial engines, which offered better fuel efficiency and increased power output. This allowed the C-119G to carry heavier loads and operate more effectively at higher altitudes. Additionally, the C-119G featured reinforced landing gear and structural enhancements to support its increased payload capacity. Another notable feature of the C-119G was its improved avionics and navigation systems, which made it more capable in adverse weather conditions and during night operations. These advancements made the C-119G a more reliable and efficient aircraft, cementing its role as a critical asset in military and humanitarian missions throughout its service life.



C-119G At A Glance

 

C-119G Specifications 


  • Manufacturer: Fairchild
  • Model: C-119G Flying Boxcar
  • S/N: 53-3191
  • Crew: 4 (Pilot, Co-Pilot, Flight Engineer, Loadmaster) 
  • Wing Span: 109 ft 3 in 
  • Length: 86 ft 6 in
  • Height: 26 ft 6 in

C-119G Performance


  • Range: 2,000 mi
  • Cruise Speed: 200 mph
  • Ceiling: 23,900 ft
  • Empty Weight: 40,000 lb
  • Max Takeoff Weight: 74,000 lb
  • Rate Of Climb: 1,010 ft/min
  • Engine: 2x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-20 Duplex Cyclone Radials 


Operational History of the C-119


The C-119 quickly proved its worth following its introduction into service with the U.S. Air Force in December 1949. Its early service saw extensive use during the Korean War, where it played a crucial role in transporting troops, equipment, and supplies to the front lines. The aircraft’s ability to airdrop cargo and paratroopers into remote and contested areas made it indispensable for operations that required rapid and flexible logistical support. One of its most notable contributions during this period was its involvement in the Berlin Airlift, where it helped deliver essential supplies to the blockaded city, showcasing its exceptional cargo-handling capabilities and reliability under pressure.

 

C-119 Flying Boxcar being loaded

330-PS-2598 (111-SC-43973AC) flickr photo by Photograph Curator shared with no copyright restrictions using Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM)

 

 

In addition to its military roles, the C-119 was also utilized for various humanitarian missions. Its spacious cargo hold and robust design made it ideal for disaster relief operations, where it could quickly deliver large quantities of food, medical supplies, and other essentials to affected areas. The aircraft's versatility was further demonstrated in search and rescue missions, where it was used to deploy rescue teams and equipment to remote locations. The C-119’s ability to operate from rough, unprepared airstrips was particularly valuable in these scenarios, enabling it to reach areas that other aircraft could not.

 

 

Beyond its service with the U.S. Air Force, the C-119 saw widespread use in the air forces of other nations. Many countries, recognizing the aircraft’s versatility and reliability, incorporated the C-119 into their own fleets. The Italian Air Force, for example, used the C-119 for a variety of roles, including troop transport, cargo delivery, and medical evacuation. Similarly, the Indian Air Force employed the C-119 during the Sino-Indian War, utilizing its capabilities to support frontline troops and supply missions. The aircraft’s international service further underscored its reputation as a versatile and dependable workhorse, capable of meeting the diverse needs of military and humanitarian operations worldwide.



53-3191


According to the record card , our C-119G Flying Boxcar was accepted by the U.S. Air Force in 1954 and embarked on a storied journey, initially assigned to the 317th Troop Carrier Wing at Neubiberg Air Base in Germany. Throughout its service, it played a vital role in the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), frequently moving between key bases such as RAF Burtonwood, Neubiberg Air Base, and Évreux-Fauville Air Base. After years of dedicated service, the aircraft transitioned to the Air Force Reserve at General William B. Mitchell Field in Wisconsin. In 1967, 53-3191 was struck off charge and sent to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) in Tucson, Arizona, where it awaited its fate.

 

317th Troop Carrier Wing

 

The 317th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW) was a key component of the United States Air Force, tasked with providing air transport for troops, equipment, and supplies. The 317th TCW played a crucial role during the early years of the Cold War, particularly in Europe.

In 1945, as World War II ended, the 317th played a crucial role in the Berlin Airlift, air-dropping food supplies to the citizens of the Soviet-blockaded city from May through July. After the blockade lifted, the 317th inactivated at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany, in September.

 

By United States Air Force - Hill, Mike (2007), Tactical Air Command: An Illustrated History, 1946-1992, Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN  076431288X Image source listed as United States Air Force, Public Domain, Link
 

Reactivated in July 1952 at Rhein Main as the 317th Troop Carrier Wing, it became the first Air Force unit assigned to NATO. The 317th relocated to Neubiberg Air Base near Munich in 1953, operating C-119 "Boxcars" alongside newer C-123 transports.

The 317th conducted numerous humanitarian missions and supported NATO units throughout Europe, delivering emergency supplies to flood victims in the Netherlands and aiding earthquake victims in Italy, Greece, Pakistan, and Yugoslavia.

In October 1957, the 317th moved to Evreux Field, France, consolidating with another C-119 unit from Druex Air Base in preparation for transitioning to the new turboprop-equipped C-130 Hercules.

 

 

Finding a C-119: A Rattlesnake of a Tale

 

 

MotoArt owner Dave Hall has been a frequent visitor to the Davis Monthan boneyard since 2000. He first noticed the C-119 many years ago, while it was being used as a makeshift storage/quonset hut at the boneyard. At the time, there were many retired C-119s and PlaneTags had not been formally introduced yet, so there was no urgency in getting the material.


 

However, in 2022, Hall was planning a busy air show season and was in search of something to create a PlaneTags display to take on the road. The tall, flat sides of the Flying Boxcar were perfect. Hall asked his long-time colleague at the yard, who agreed to give up the C-119 if the team would clean it out.

 

 

 

 



Hall and the team spent several hours clearing the storage hut and were moving the last of many boxes when they noticed the box was vibrating. “We thought it was a toy that turned on or something,” recalls Hall. “All of a sudden there’s a rattlesnake at our feet, and boy was it angry”. The team had no choice but to relocate it outside the work area so they could complete their mission for the C-119 material.


 


The C-119 PlaneTags display was designed in 2022 and has accompanied the team at airshows ever since. In 2024, the team designed and created C-119 PlaneTags to continue telling the story of 53-3191.



 

 

 

 

 

Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar PlaneTags


The Flying Boxcar PlaneTags will arrive on Thursday, June 13, 2024 at planetags.com. Don’t miss these unique collectors items made from the original skin of 53-3191. Log onto planetags.com at 12:00 pm Pacific Time and secure your piece of history before they are gone. 





Fairchild PlaneTags


Fairchild Aircraft, renowned for its innovative and durable aircraft designs, has a rich history of producing versatile military and civilian planes. MotoArt has honored this legacy by creating PlaneTags from other iconic Fairchild aircraft, including the Fairchild Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II and the Fairchild Republic A-10 (sold out), allowing aviation enthusiasts to own a piece of aviation history. Don’t miss these articles.



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